Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, as early as 2003 considered a partnership with Apple Inc. or creating its own digital music player to rival Apple's dominant iPod.
Microsoft, displeased with hardware partners Creative Technology Ltd. and Dell Inc. that made players using Microsoft's Windows Media software, talked about building its own device, according to an e-mail exchange between Windows chief Jim Allchin and media software executive Amir Majidimehr. The correspondence, introduced into evidence in a civil antitrust trial against Microsoft in Des Moines, Iowa, was made public today.
Allchin, who started the exchange in an e-mail entitled ``sucking on media players,'' also suggested he talk to Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs to get the iPod to work with Microsoft's media software for fear the iPod would ``drive people away from Windows Media Player.'' Microsoft introduced its Zune music player in November.
``My goodness it's terrible,'' Allchin wrote about one of Creative's devices. ``What I don't understand though is I was told the new Creative Labs device would be comparable to Apple. That is so not the case.''
Majidimehr replied ``Now you feel our pain.'' He said Microsoft was providing cash incentives to get the partners to improve devices. If that doesn't work ``it is time for us to roll up our sleeves and do our own hardware,'' he wrote.